Van Ark – Chemical Beats LP Review

chemical-beats-cover

Artist: Van Ark

Album: Chemical Beats LP

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Label: Indie

 

Track list:

 

1. The Scientist (Intro)

2. Chemical Break Down

3. We Know (featuring Asylum 7)

4. On Your Mind

5. Outer Space

6. Déjà vu (featuring Tony Moon)

7. Basement Sessions

8. Beyond

9. Return

10. The Gift (featuring Oz the Arc Raider & Van Ark)

11. You

12. Elements

13. Stimulate Minds (featuring Astro and Leaf Erikson)

14. Reaction

15. Mental Archives

 

With a mixture of instrumentals and recorded hip-hop tracks, you get the Chemical Beats LP, which is an album by Van Ark—who is a rapper, producer, and writer from Richmond, Virginia. For those of you that are fans of Tony Moon, you will recognize Van Ark as the producer of the song, “Déjà vu.” The bulk of this music has been composed throughout the past couple of years and was released circa 2008. Here is the breakdown of each track:

 

The Scientist (Intro)

Similar to most of MF Doom’s intros, Van Ark gives us an old recording of a crazy scientist describing what this LP will do to your mind…”chemically.” It was a funny and simple way to start off his fifteen-track album—Van Ark must have dug hard for this sample.

 

Chemical Break Down

Van Ark chose to lead off his LP with a repetitive and marching beat. This instrumental would be perfect for any battle situation and sounds like it jumped right out of 1990-ish emcee battle. This instrumental sets the tone for the LP and lets the listeners know that what they will be hearing throughout the album will be consistent and well designed.

 

We Know (featuring Asylum 7)

The first song that Van Ark chose to put on his LP, with an emcee rapping, was this track—featuring Asylum 7. Again, another steady and mind controlling beat provides the landscape as Asylum 7 rips two, short and simple, verses. The piano sample used for this instrumental keeps the head bobbing throughout the entire song.

 

On Your Mind

Another strictly instrumental song, Van Ark provides a simple and ill track that keeps the head moving in motion. This time around, he flipped a soulful sample and kept the timbre of the music very bright and enjoying. The best part about the instrumental is that the drums are not as overwhelming as you would expect, which kept things entertaining and I was able to flow with the music with ease.

 

Outer Space

This next instrumental that Van Ark placed on his LP is perfect. After the introduction to the beat literally takes off, the melody kicks in and is quite bouncy. The rapid and hard hitting snares work well for this instrumental and the kick drums keep the rhythm of the percussion parallel to the melody.

 

Déjà vu (featuring Tony Moon)

This song was featured on Tony Moon’s mixtape, “Moonshine: You Know, For Kids!,” which I reviewed earlier this year (click here to read). This was one of my favorite songs that Tony Moon blessed on his mixtape. The beat is very mellow and inspirational. The rhymes are informative. Overall, this was a classic track.

 

Basement Sessions

The next instrumental on the LP is one of my favorite tracks. It features a very stylish and bouncy rhythm with hints of jazz influence. This beat actually sounds like it could have been on Grand Puba’s 2000 album that was released in 1995 (or at least a track that got cut before press). Simply put, without anyone rapping on it, all I can hear is Grand Puba’s crazy style all over Van Ark’s production.

 

Beyond

This instrumental caught me off guard because it sounds very different from the work that Van Ark has already presented to us with the first seven songs. The sample is quite mystical and sounded like it has an Asian influence.

 

Return

This instrumental caught me off guard…again. This time the sound is clearly, “south of the boarder,” with Latin influences. The horns do this song justice and the drums kept the high-tempo pace, as I nearly stood up out of my chair and began to Salsa dance.

 

The Gift (featuring Oz the Arc Raider & Van Ark)

The style from this instrumental is spot on MF Doom or Madlib influenced. I could definitely imagine Zev spitting over this beat for his Operation: Doomsday album…but instead we get Oz the Arc Raider and Van Ark killing the two verses. The production on this instrumental is amazing and is up there as one of my favorite tracks on the entire album.

 

You

Again, Van Ark gave us another wild and fast paced instrumental. This instrumental seems to be all over the place and has a lot of originality and creativity to it. If the right emcee got on this instrumental, it would be a classic. Sounds like something I’ve heard from underground artists around the 2000-2002 time-frame.

 

Elements

I loved this instrumental. That’s all I can say. It takes me back to the times of the early 90’s. This instrumental sounds spot on like early Big L or Nas. I wish I could have heard 1994 Nas spit on this. It would have been a classic.

 

Stimulate Minds (featuring Astro and Leaf Erikson)

This track has a ton of jazz flavor and influence and sounds like another MF Doom Operation: Doomsday track. Astro killed his verse and Leaf Erikson was able to hold his own as well. This track should have been a cut on one of MF Doom’s Special Herb LPs. Honestly. Click here to download this song in its entirety.

 

Reaction

After I heard this song, I was completely thrown off about how Van Ark was going to end the album. This instrumental is very 2004ish and sounded like something you would hear Internet battlers using for online rap battle tournaments. Also, be on the lookout for the video Van Ark has of this track. I will be posting it on UTG shortly.

 

Mental Archives

This masterpiece of an album ends with a short and simple skit that was sampled from a man talking about astronomy. I have to agree with the message that Van Ark was implying by using this as his outro. Kudos.

 

Overall, the Chemical Beats LP was a successful experiment and I really enjoyed listening to it. I have only heard a handful of instrumental albums and most of them sound drowsy and boring, so adding a handful of fully recorded tracks really livened up the experience I got from Van Ark’s LP.

 

Score: 8/10

Written By: Brandon “Venamis” Folsom – www.twitter.com/venamis

 

 

 

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